The Not Having Been Discovered Yet List

I hope you’re enjoying your Columbus Day — or, as I prefer to call it, Not Having Been Discovered Yet Day (an homage to the late, great comic genius, Flip Wilson).

Sure, Christopher Columbus was directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands — some historians suggest millions — of indigenous North Americans. And yes, he introduced the slave trade to the New World. And despite what you may have heard, he wasn’t the first European to make landfall or establish a colony in the Western Hemisphere — hello, Leif Ericson — nor to prove that the Earth was round (the shape of the Earth was understood from ancient times; the Biblical book of Isaiah, written around 700 B.C., described “the circle of the Earth”).

But Crazy Chris had a terrific press agent: namely, storyteller Washington Irving. Irving’s 1828 fictionalized biography, The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus, popularized most of the commonly accepted legend about the explorer.

Which is the main reason there’s a Columbus Day.

Listing all of the various and sundry items named for the self-styled Admiral of the Ocean Sea would take us until… well… next Columbus Day. So instead, I’ve selected my seven absolute favorite Columbus name-checks.

7. Columbus Salame. One of the Bay Area’s finest producers of tasty meat products. I lunched on sandwiches made from Columbus deli ham just yesterday. Delicious.

6. The District of Columbia. This will come a shock to fans of filmmaker Alex Proyas, but the abbreviation at the end of Washington, D.C. does not stand for Dark City. I lived in our nation’s capital for several months when I was young — my father was stationed at nearby Andrews Air Force Base.

5. Columbus, Ohio. My wife used to work for Nationwide Insurance, which is based there. Thanks for all the paychecks.

4. The Columbia River. On a speaking trip to Eugene, Oregon some years back, I was treated to a lovely dinner in a restaurant overlooking the river. Roll, Columbia.

3. Motion picture director Chris Columbus. The only one of Columbus’s films that I truly enjoy is his first, Adventures in Babysitting, but that one is so choice that I’m willing to overlook abject junk like Home Alone and Mrs. Doubtfire. “Nobody leaves this place without singing the blues.”

2. The World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, sometimes referred to as the Chicago World’s Fair. Author Erik Larson wrote an excellent nonfiction book, The Devil in the White City, about the development of the Exposition and the concurrent activities of serial killer H.H. Holmes. If you haven’t read Larson’s tome, I highly recommend it.

1. Lt. Columbo. I always wondered whether Peter Falk’s disheveled detective was a descendant of the Italian-born explorer (whose name in his native tongue would be pronounced Christoforo Columbo). “Ah, pardon me, ma’am… just one more thing… do you mind if I steal your continent?”

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Explore posts in the same categories: Aimless Riffing, Celebritiana, Dead People Got No Reason to Live, Hero of the Day, Listology, Random Acts of Patriotism, Ripped From the Headlines

One Comment on “The Not Having Been Discovered Yet List”

  1. Bob Says:

    Re: “the circle of the Earth”
    Questionable evidence at best. If you were inclined (as many are) to believe every word in the Bible is literally true, then “circle” is, by definition, a flat, two-dimensional shape. It can (and has been) argued that the verse you quote is evidence that the Earth was believed to be flat, and the word “sphere,” “globe,” or “orb” would have been used if a three-dimensional form had been intended.


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